Horseback riding is a fun, exhilarating activity, especially for an animal lover. However, it can be difficult for a beginner to get started if they are intimidated by the large size of a horse. Here is some general advice to get started as a horseback rider:
Find a stable and an instructor. The best way to learn is to practice, and practicing without instruction as a beginner can be dangerous! A good riding stable will have an experienced teacher who can walk you through the first steps of riding. If you're not good at first, don’t worry. Riding isn’t as easy as it looks. With practice you will improve.
Make sure the instructor picks the right horse for you. The horse you ride as a beginner should be at least eight years old, and shouldn’t be fidgety and excitable. If your instructor is pushing you to ride a horse that you don’t think is right for you, find another instructor. A good instructor will be patient.
Sit up straight. When sitting on the horse, you should be able to draw a straight line through the ear, shoulder, hip, and heel. Do not round or overarch your back, look straight ahead.
Be gentle, but firm in commands. To get your horse to move forward, squeeze with your calves. Some horses might be more stubborn, or might sense you are inexperienced or nervous, and may need a harder squeeze. If a horse has been trained correctly, a crop or spurs are not necessary to get it to listen. To get it to stop, sit deep in the saddle and tug on the reins, perhaps with the verbal command “whoa.” To turn your horse, apply pressure with your legs to one side to the other.
Move with the horse. Though you should keep proper posture, this doesn’t mean sitting stiff. When the horse is moving forward, you will feel a rocking motion. Move naturally with the motion, this makes things easier on both you and the horse. Hold your arms gently, so you have light contact with the horse’s mouth and move your elbows with the horse as it walks.
Stick with it. Horseback riding is like any activity – it takes a lot of practice. Don’t be discouraged if at the end of your first session, your horse didn't listen as much as it should have and you’re sore. With practice, you will come to love horseback riding and become more skilled than you thought possible on your first day.